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Voicing the CinemaFilm Music and the Integrated Soundtrack$
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James Buhler and Hannah Lewis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043000

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043000.001.0001

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Vococentrism and Sound in Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute

Vococentrism and Sound in Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute

(p.91) Chapter 5 Vococentrism and Sound in Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute
Voicing the Cinema
Marcia J. Citron
University of Illinois Press

Bergman’s Magic Flute (1975) is one of the highlights of opera-film. It represents a splendid example of Bergman’s mastery of image and film technique, and a memorable interpretation of Mozart’s late opera. Except for chapters by Jeongwon Joe (1998) and Jeremy Tambling (1987), it has been underrepresented in research on opera-film. There is much more to be said, especially with respect to sound. Not only are Flute’s sound practices critical to the film, but its emphasis on vococentrism is unusual for an opera-film and also connects Flute to Bergman’s cinema as a whole. Many elements in the soundscape contribute to Bergman’s highly personal interpretation. One is the dry environment in the passages of spoken dialogue, recorded live and its contrast with the warmer environment in the musical numbers, which were prerecorded. The spoken sections impart a sense of intimacy and interiority, qualities found in other Bergman films, such as Persona, The Seventh Seal, and The Hour of the Wolf. Ambient noise occurs in some places, its use linked to certain moods and situations. Variations in the resonance of the vocal music add another element to the mix. This chapter focuses on three places in Flute. The second tableau, numbers 1-5, uses sound to delineate the juxtaposition of theater and cinema and establish a link between dry speech and interioirity. In the scene of Tamino’s crisis at “O ew’ge Nacht,” an expanded array of effects, including the acousmêtre and reverberation in addition to dryness, limn Tamino’s psyche and underscore a key moment of the opera. And at Pamina’s parental crisis in the first half of Act II, silence as well as sound plays an integral role. The striking sound design of Bergman and his team is crucial to the film’s aesthetic style, in which “less is more,” and its reputation as a landmark of opera-film.

Keywords:   Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Flute, Bergman’s The Magic Flute film, sound design, vococentrism, opera-film

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